A CANDIDATE for Maybury and Sheerwater has petitioned the High Court to declare a Woking Borough Council election result null and void and is seeking a new election for the ward.
Labour candidate Mohammad Ali says: “I have filed a civil case against councillor Mohammed Bashir (as respondent) and his supporters for being involved in electoral fraud.”
At the count on May 3, tensions were high as the Maybury and Sheerwater results had to be verified and then recounted twice.It may be interesting to note that there are eight people registered to vote in Mr Bashir’s own house
Mr Ali narrowly missed gaining Labour a seat in the civic offices, with 1,072 votes counted, while Lib-Dem candidate Mr Bashir managed to hold on to his seat by 16 votes.
Mr Ali said: “The allegation is not because I lost by just 16 votes but we could see suspicious activities and registrations.
“I allege that electoral offences were committed by the winning candidate or his agents (supporters). These range from multiple registrations to ghost voters. Initially 73 such cases have been identified and the list has since grown.”
Mr Ali claims categories of fraud identified include:
- Postal votes cast while the voter was out of country.
- Voters pressurised into handing over their postal votes.
- Ghost voters – those who do not live at the addresses specified.
- Close relatives of Mr Bashir known not to be resident in the ward but registering last-minute to vote for him.
- Multiple new registrations close to the election period in houses not even registered as homes with multiple occupants.
Mr Ali added: “It may be interesting to note that there are eight people registered to vote in Mr Bashir’s own house.”
Mr Bashir has declined to comment on the case until after the proceedings. Mr Ali says the High Court has passed on his case to the Crown Prosecution Service for investigation.
Although Mr Ali says he has nothing against the council and that his case is against Mr Bashir, because he is requesting a re-election for the ward, the council says effectively it is a case against their returning officer responsible for overseeing elections, chief executive Ray Morgan.
A procedural hearing is due to take place in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on July 27 with Cllr Bashir and Woking Borough Council’s barrister representing respondent Mr Morgan.
Mr Ali concluded: “Myself and my supporters are also collecting our own evidence. This time I hope to prove electoral fraud and get the result overturned as we feel democracy must be restored.”